Statutes Amendment (Terrorism) Bill - 22 September 2015

Wednesday 10 February, 2016

Mr TARZIA ( Hartley ) ( 17:04 :43 ): I rise briefly to speak on the Statutes Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2015.

As we have heard, the amendments simply extend the limits of time to allow for an extra 10 years of operation of the existing legislation by deleting '10' and replacing it with '20' where it appears in the acts.

We have the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act, which gives somewhat extraordinary police powers to our state police in cases of emergency or threatened emergency and in cases of terrorism. We hope we never have to use these powers, but it is important that we give our armed forces the powers that they need to perform their duties.

We know that terrorism is a huge issue all around the world. It only seems like yesterday when we had the attacks in New York on 11 September. There are some evil people in the world still trying to undermine freedom and undermine democracy around the world, and it is important that we give our armed forces the powers that they need to do their job. Some of these evil people operate in the shadows of society. They infiltrate all kinds of organisations. They live quietly, they can spy in secret, so it is quite possible that they will strike with very little warning.

I can understand the civil libertarian argument that these sorts of powers should not be given to government or should only be given to government in very rare circumstances; however, guess what? If you are a law abiding citizen, you have nothing to fear. You have nothing to worry about. We would only have these sorts of laws so that they can be implemented in very rare circumstances but, if we do have an event of terrorism or a likely event of terrorism, then at least we have given our armed forces the tools that they need to do their jobs.

I understand that similar legislation has been passed in other states, as the member for Bragg has alluded to. In fact, an international independent security monitor conducted a review in 2010, as did COAG, in relation to similar laws. There are compelling reasons to give people these powers and for the sunset date to be extended.

We see almost on a daily basis what looks like the growth of terrorist groups like ISIL all around the world, and they are obviously extremely active. They have planned and executed acts of violence all around the world. We have seen acts in recent times here in Australia that we could say they have influenced; look at the Man Monis siege in New South Wales, which is, I note, currently subject to a coronial inquiry. There was another instance in Victoria where two police officers were stabbed following, I believe, planned threats of beheading.

The current circumstances not only in Syria but other parts of the world, as well as the high alert level issued by the Australian government in September last year, also tell us that there is justification for these kinds of laws to continue. It is rare legislation. Obviously we do not look to pass such legislation that takes people's civil rights somewhat away without extreme circumstances. However, these are testing times and we need to make sure, as I said earlier, that we do give our armed forces the tools they need to make sure they can rid and stamp out terrorism.

We have been fortunate so far. We have been fortunate that we have a prudent government, prudent police and prudent intel both federal and state whereby we have not been subject to a terrorist event in South Australia; but, at the same time, we cannot rest on our laurels, we cannot be complacent and we need to make sure that we do everything that we can, anything in our power, to prevent such attacks and to give our armed men and women the tools that they need to keep us safe. So, without hesitation and with those few words I will commend the bill to the house.